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“Not Taking Rights Seriously”. Opting for the Primacy of EU Law over Broader Human Rights Protection

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Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Opinion 2/13’s ‘Unserious’ Stance on Article 53 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights’ Relationship to Article 53 ECHR

The European Union (EU) accession to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) has been a hot topic in the European legal discourse in this decade. Ruling on the compliance of the Draft Agreement on EU accession to the ECHR with the EU Treaties, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) came up with a rather controversial Opinion. It ruled that the Draft Agreement is incompliant with the EU Treaties in several respects. One of the core concerns in Opinion 2/13 relates to the management of horizontal relationship between the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (ChFR) and ECHR, namely Article 53 ChFR and Article 53 ECHR. The article examines the Opinion 2/13’s specific concerns on the relationship between Article 53 ChFR and Article 53 ECHR from a post-accession perspective. It starts by considering the question of the two 53s’ relationship from the EU-law autonomy viewpoint, indicating the main gaps that may present a danger to the latter. While questioning from a number of perspectives the plausibility of the CJEU’s arguments in relation to the two 53s, the article argues that the Court was both controversial and argued against itself when it drew harshly upon these concerns. The article also presents three options to address the CJEU’s requirements on this issue. The article concludes that the CJEU’s statements on the two 53s will seriously hurt the accession project, while critically limiting the possibility of Member States to provide broader protection.

Affiliations: 1: PhD in Law, Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Research Fellow at frc Research Group, Faculty of Law and Criminology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel,; 2: PhD Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Hamburg,


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